We sent around a handful of disposable cameras to the TILT family to capture their summer. Most of the cameras found their way back to us to get developed and put into this TILTLIFE. The photos range from Chicago Street Jam to camping in the woods with everything in between being captured. The photographers consist of Dylan Kasson, Michael Spizzirri, Issac Miller, Collin Snoek, Chris Martin, Christian Dean, and Jordan Jasa.
Photography by: Chris Martin, Collin Snoek, Jordan Jasa & Christian Dean. Copywriting by: Chris Martin, Christian Dean & Jordan Jasa.
This trip took a lot of preparation from the start. We went back and forth about going to a midwest town or going somewhere rad like Puerto Rico or Montreal. After a month of back and forth it was pretty unanimous, Canada it was. Collin and Chris did a decent amount of planning the route which later turned into a full blown Toronto spot list to break up the drive to Montreal. In addition to the 12 hours spent on virtual walks using google, we needed a van since we sold our last one during the move. Collin went in and picked the sketchiest, cheapest van we could find which was a Ford Diesel that got nicknamed the “Fuckit Bucket.” A roof rack was built and some minor rigging was done. Tilt was as ready as could be to hit the road in hopes to make it into Canada at the very least.
We stopped every chance we could on the way up because the van didn’t have AC and had a hole or two in the fire wall which made it hotter inside than outside. This trip was during the crazy heat wave that hit the Midwest.
Our first Canadian adventure took place before we even got into the country. Collin was really on the team about being prepared to cross the border. So when we got to the checkpoint, the team sat and chilled while Collin did the talking with the agent. Sure enough, he managed to answer them in an unnecessarily sketchy way (he got tripped up when they asked if anyone was gonna be making money on the trip) and so we got directed off to the side, into no man's land for further investigation. We piled into a waiting room, did some waiting, got caught up on the olympic tennis standings, they double checked Jon's identity, gave us back our passports and we were on our way.
Collin had to pee and eat so we pulled off the freeway to find a shaded spot which turned into an out in the open spot in between two cornfields. Not an ideal situation but turned out to be fun. Jordan was very confused because to him, being from small town Iowa, it seemed he had not traveled very far from home despite the hours we had already driven.
Our campsite was a very interesting situation. Somehow we managed to turn a five hour drive into eight so we got to the campground as the sun was setting. We all stayed in our seats while Collin did the talking since there were nine smelly dudes in a van. At first they told us we couldn't stay because they were full but somehow Collin got us in. Where there is a Collin, there is a way. We ended up with a solid group campsite that had all the room and was away from everyone else. It was perfect.
Half the team set up Josh's aunt's humongous tent while the other half went to go find beer from a local grocery store. Turns out you can't do that- they don't sell beer at grocery stores in Canada. But we ended up with 2 liter bottles of cider and wine made by Growers. To be honest it wasn't bad and it set things off in the right way...or so we thought.
The next morning, Collin noticed the power steering was leaking. While he still had fluid in the system, he made the decision to take it to the shop. As that was happening, we were told we would have to move our tents. It took about 45 minutes to set the big tent up so there was no way we were gonna tear it down. Everyone grabbed an end and carried it to our new site.
Since the van was still being worked on, Issac, Jon and Chris decided to go for a swim in the river and wash off as others just laid around, skated, edited photos or drank the left over Growers.
At last, the van was here to save us from going insane from boredom. On our way to our first spot, we saw a really long flat bar. Pulled a U-turn and seshed it till a security guard came an hour later. He was extremely polite and so was the old Italian man that promised he didn’t call the cops but he did want us to go. We were not used to this; turns out the stereotype is true.
Still on our way to our “first” spot, we saw an apartment complex that had some sweet roof to ride on along with some more flat rails. Both Jon and Issac got clips as the residents came out to watch. Everyone was so intrigued and very confused as they rooted the team on.
Finally, we made it to our “first” spot which ended up being our last spot. This was a school that was really a skatepark. It was a lot of fun getting creative with the bank and rail lines.
As the whole team was focused on one part, Jon was looking at a really long kinked rail. It was as long or longer than the one Issac attempted in Grand Rapids a year or so back (think thrash resistant ad). Jon attempted this rail making it past the kink a couple of times but the sun was going down along with Jon’s energy. Issac gave him some words from his experience and the sesh came to an end. Some things are just too gnarly and not worth killing yourself on the first day of riding.
The next day we all woke up at different times and waited to move the tent again. It was insane that we couldn’t stay in the same spot more than a night. The ladies at the spot we were suppose to move to were taking their sweet time. Chris went over to talk to them and after he finished asking them when they were going to leave, they responded in french. That’s when we knew we were screwed and would have to wait till noon which is when they had to leave.
On the third day, we hit up a park in Toronto and met up with local rider Ethan Kirk. We started to make plans to ride spots downtown when storm clouds began to roll in. We were forced to make a choice: drive back to the campground to grab our stuff in case it rained, or take a chance to be able to get clips. We compromised and so Jordan, Christian, and Smukal headed to the city with the homies while the rest of the squad drove back. It was a good thing, because our rain tarp wasn't on our tent and so it was filling up with water. The boys went out and bought towels and took everything to a laundromat to dry what was wet.
While the rest of the team was out at the park warming up, Dylan and Chris got dropped off at the hospital. Dylan was battling some sharp stomach pains before the street jam but they went away. They came back this day and he was seriously thinking about flying home. After a couple hours running tests at the hospital he was released. With questions still unanswered, the two of them were ready to be picked up but things didn't go as smoothly as they hoped. Turns out half the crew had their hands full and the two were left stranded downtown with no scooters for 12 hours.
Meanwhile, those of us in the city were able to cruise the city and manage to get some clips, but not before getting drenched in the rain. We were at this famous manny pad spot when it started pouring buckets. We were able to find cover under a building right there, but must have sat there for an hour at least. After a while of that, Jordan said screw it and started riding in the rain, getting some rad shots anyway. After a sesh of doing tricks over a little sign that was there, we headed to this underground food court/parking garage. We filmed some jibs down there but got kicked out, and finally it was dry enough for us to keep riding outside.
So while cruising we came across this flooded underpass that was blocked off by the cops. Some idiot taxi driver had gotten stuck in the water and the fire department was pumping water out. We also saw two brave bicyclists ride directly through the knee high water with no issues, while Christian was setting up to film a trick. We ended up having a successful night and the van picked us up right after the camera batteries died.
We started the next day off like we started every day in Canada; fight ourselves awake through the sore muscles from yesterday's riding, scavenge for the nearest Starbucks to get our caffeine fix, then load up the van and head towards the day’s first spot. Following the pattern of this trip the first spot of this day wasn't on our list, but one we spotted from the road while driving. It was a crusty, transitioned bank to concrete wall. After getting a few wallrides in, the lady who owned the house behind the wall stuck her head out the window and began to heckle us. She was angry about how loud we were being, and that she and her kids were trying to sleep. We tried to reason with her, but she wasn’t having it. A few minutes later, a rather sketchy dude started walking our way from down the road. He was getting really hyped on us and was asking us to do the wallride and other random tricks on our scooter. After he saw the lady yelling at us, he started yelling back at her telling her to leave us alone and go back inside. It was hilarious to watch this random guy defend us against the old lady yelling out her window. He was definitely the homie.
After getting a few clips at the wallride spot, we continued on to our neverlasting list of spots. A few spots that we showed up to ended up being duds, which wasn’t ideal. On our way driving to (hopefully) the next successful spot, we came across a green mellow double kinked rail. The rail seemed too good to be true, and that’s exactly what it was. We’ve never seen a rail that wobbled more in our entire lives. Jona was eyeing up the rail and deciding if it was even worth hitting. After only a couple tries, he managed to suicide FS lipslide through both kinks. Issac got his back with a FS 5-0, which shouldn’t have been possible on the rail. While Issac and Jona were riding the green rail, Jon had his sights set on a steep wall-rail against the building. He got a perfect BS 5-0, then we packed up and headed to the next destination.
The next spot was definitely one of a kind. It had a slightly curved handicap rail that went along the sidewalk, then abruptly turns into a short stairset rail. In the middle and off to the side of the rail was a random circular manual pad. While half the crew took a pit stop at the Tim Horton’s next to the spot, Tom was trying to boardslide the whole rail. After battling the rail for about an hour, we decided that the sharp curve at the end was impossible to slide through. Dylan started looking at the manual pad, and began to try a FS 180 fakie manual. After getting close multiple times and then almost calling quits, he managed to pull the fakie manual across the pad. This spot was definitely better looking in the pictures, and a lot more difficult to ride than we were anticipating. We rallied up the crew and headed off to the next spot.
We made it to a famous courtyard that everyone was having a good time at. Both Jona and Jordan got their tricks first while Issac and Jon screwed around at the spot. Jon ended up falling on his pre-existing scab that was getting infected. Issac ended up landing some pretty cool things like a 180 to fakie 50-50.
Jona started going at a bar 50 and Issac soon started trying a whip 50. Tom had been attempting a wallride 50 the entire time. It was fun watching three of the riders add their own style on a single spot. This spot sort of resembled the time when Tom battled the wallride smith in Pittsburgh back in 2014. All he needed was that perfect land and he had it but that never came this time around. Jona and Christian were the only ones that rode away from this spot.
Toronto seems to be full of apartment complexes with rideable rails. We stumbled on this screwed up kink that dropped off into the flat part. Both Tom and Issac were playing around with it. Once everyone got set up to capture what was about to happen, Issac went for it. First time he hit the flat super violently and sort of shot out. He grabs his scooter and knows he has it. Second try he absorbs the kink much better and rides away. Everyone was in shock, like it was really that easy?
This pool was really rad but not forgiving. There was a lot of interesting lines to nail down and we spent a decent amount of time at this park.
The crew split up a little bit again, with most of us splitting off to ride and the other few to chill in the van. The riding crew started making their way towards the city, just cruising for spots. The first one we found was this building with banked wallrides on the side. A fire hydrant and bike rack spiced it up, and we ended up staying there for quite a while clocking clips. The crew continued on, with mild success.
We ended up meeting on a random street away from the traffic which turned into a perfect chill spot as the sun was setting. Some girls came by and said they wanted their photo taken so they posed by the van. Like usual, Dylan found a spot in the nearest alley to hit. Both him and Jordan ended up getting something on it.
We came up on this brand new school with a few pretty good spots. Tom decided to send it down a double kink even though it was beginning to rain lightly. He kept getting closer and closer, but it started to rain harder between tries. He landed the rail twice but didn’t get his tailwhip out. We finally had to call it quits since his griptape became useless and he kept slipping out on the rail. He managed to cheat death more than once on this one.
While driving around deciding what to do, we stopped to check out a rail in front of a house. It must have been garbage pickup day, because there were boxes of clothes and other random stuff on the sidewalk. Issac copped a flannel robe and rocked it for the rest of the day. We took shelter at a nearby skatepark that was placed under a bridge. The park was moderately packed with skateboarders and small children snaking their way throughout the ramps. Even with spirits at an all time low because of the rain, we managed to have a good sesh at the small and quirky skatepark.
This was our second time at this spot. Jona had a line he really wanted to get on these super smooth ledges. We showed up with no wax and we knew it was going to be a problem. As Jona tried to land it without the wax, some people cruised to a store to get some wax for him. As they showed up with the wax, we were getting kicked out. Jona was down to try it while they called the cops but then a guy with his dog stood in front of the ledge. As we were leaving, they all started taking pictures of us on their phones like they were going to do something with it. Every time we got kicked out of spots, everyone was really nice and apologetic. This was our least pleasant kick out but even then, they were still polite. It was so weird, Coming from America, we are used to people being rude and hostile.
We showed up to the last spot (this was the 2nd time we came here, we ruled it out as an irrelevant spot the 1st time) and we pushed around the school. The back of the school had a large bank, with multiple handrails scattered throughout. One particular rail was a triple kink with an extended flat at the bottom. This was a monster of a rail and seemed anything but possible.
We started looking around a bit more, and Christian had his eye on a roof to dumpster hop. He climbed up to the top to get a better look, and decided he wanted to try it. Christian usually likes to keep his wheels close to the ground, so this one was a little out of his comfort zone. After a few minutes of hyping himself up, he got the dumpster ride first try.
Issac started looking at the monster rail again. It had everything going against him; it was tall, the downs were steep, the kinks were harsh, and it was concrete on both sides. There were no safe-havens on this rail. He told himself he wasn’t doing it being content with the other kink he already landed a couple days ago. Chris came up and sat next to him, giving a little nudge towards him hitting the rail. He explained himself and rode away. He had valid points.
After a couple run-ups and some encouragement from the boys, Issac started to try and slide the giant kinked rail. He kept getting closer with each try. He would make it to the end of the rail almost every attempt, but then get sent by the extended flat on the bottom.
After about 10 attempts, Issac landed a proper boardslide all the way through the extended section of the rail. Some people tried to hold back their excitement but it was rather hard to contain our excitement for him. It was a perfect way to end the trip. We ended up making it to a bar for some pizza and adult beverages where Collin treated the team for a great time. The car ride back to the motel was a musical with hit after hit as everyone in the van sang at the top of their lungs for 30 minutes. Spirits were high and the last thing we were thinking about was the 6 hour drive back to the shop.
Overall, things could have gone smoother for Tilt's first international trip. We didn't make it to our original destination, Dylan was out sick for a couple days, the whole camping thing was more or less a disaster, we were hit by rain, the van was hotter than the Devil's asshole, and buying beer at night after a long day of riding when you just want to chill? Easier said than done. But hey, it wouldn't be a Tilt trip without something going wrong. Even with the setbacks, we were able to film an awesome video. That's what makes this team so special- the ability to persevere, have fun, and work hard to create something the entire community can enjoy. We hope you enjoyed Tilt Takes Toronto, and we'll see you on the next trip!
This years street jam we played it pretty close to the finish line. We always start planning for it super early but when it comes down to wrapping everything up, it’s never done until the last week. This year we weren’t done until the morning of the jam. A couple people were on the fence about the last spot since the risk factor was super high. We had a feeling someone was going to the hospital.
Another issue we had was the hunt for an HVX. A couple filmers we were relying on coming to the jam couldn’t make it so a last minute call went out to Proto to hook it up. Now that all the spots had been Bondoed, there were two cameras and three filmers to swap between, someone to lead the jam and a motorized scooter to tow around 17 people at a time, we were set.
The first spot we hit wasn’t too far from Wilson skatepark and was supposed to be a somewhat easy rail for people to hit. To our surprise, only a handful of people were into the rail. There was also a yellow pillar at the bottom that made it risky to try certain tricks. The people that weren’t riding were either running to the store to buy drinks for everyone, climbing the railroad bridge or getting on top of the roof and poking holes into peoples ceilings. The spot ended up lagging out a little so we packed it up and headed to the next spot. Big shout out to Proto for sponsoring this spot and throwing in extra money for some of the winners.
The second spot we decided on the day before the jam. It is a cool spot to film a line but we didn’t exactly think about people wanting to hit the ledges from both sides which made for one big cluster fuck and a really hard time to film because nobody took turns. A lot of people battled it out and tried to get tricks, while others stood and watched the chaos. Scooter Zone ended up sponsoring the ledges and through out some tricks that needed to be landed for some quick cash.
We pushed pretty far to get to those butter benches and had a long trek back to the third and fourth spot. Pretty much, the second we got to the spot, people were already hucking themselves down the 4 block. We aren’t even sure how people had the energy after that mile push back. So many tricks went down here and it was very fucking pleasant to watch. The trick to land was a 180 down the gap to half cab up the curb. It was pretty intense to watch multiple people attempt this but out of nowhere, Reece landed it first try. The Shop had the cash to back up that request and the spot was shut down. We moved to the front of the building.
Issac killed himself, landing a triple heel that immediately lead him into chugging a beer and showering himself with it to clean off all the dirt on his back from falling.
Once we moved to the front of the building, we were at the spot Aztek was sponsoring. It was a skinny flat rail that had riders squaring up and getting use to it. Mark "Black Momba" Williams ended up hopping on for a back lip and lost balance so he kept his foot off and landed a one foot back lip which was pretty amazing to watch. That sort of set the tone for this spot. Only 5-10 riders were into the rail but they were attempting some solid tricks. We probably would of stayed there another 30 minutes if the cops didn’t show up. Some people were stuck cleaning up in front of the cop while the rest made their way to the final spot.
The last spot was a doozy. It was a very tall 10 flat 10 that went straight into a tunnel. The likely hood of someone eating it hard was about a 10. We ended up having a decent amount of money left so we told everyone, whoever tricks down it gets $100. That made some people line up and others gather around to watch the mayhem. With the first person aka Dennis pushing fast at the stair set, everyone was keen to see if he was going to make it. Both wheels touched ground with relief. It was hard to believe someone landed it first try. With that out of the way, we all wondered what was next. Before we knew it, Nick was pushing fast at the set and threw the gnarliest 360 anyone has ever seen. It looked like he was going for a nose dive at the end but really he was just throwing in some extra flare. Collin walked up, realizing nothing gnarlier was going to be thrown and handed Nick the rest of the cash we had on hand. Every year we don’t know how we are going to top the year before but to our surprise, it keeps happening.
This year we had an extra disposable camera lying around so we passed it around from friend to friend to capture the street jam from a riders perspective. Ideally each person was suppose to take one photo and pass it along. We have no idea who really contributed to this so thank you for somehow getting this back to us for these awesome photos.
It is an understatement to say that this apparel release was complicated. We started this release back in December of 2014 but because of internal debates we didn’t really hit production till August 2015. Once we started production that was a whole other nightmare in itself. We learned a lot because of this huge headache which has made ongoing apparel releases that much smoother. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
So with every apparel release, it starts with drawing, a lot of drawing! This time we came up with a bunch of inspiration to lead the overall mood of this release. Mike Spizzirri, the very talented Illustrator normally tackles all of sketching because of his very fluent and natural hand that he has. He’s been doing this for years and so far we haven’t been able to stump him yet.
Once we have a decent amount of sketches, we start to scan everything in. Then we vector the chosen scans we like which takes plenty of time in itself. In addition to the scanning we also come up with a bunch of ideas on the computer because not everything needs an organic touch. The problem with doing things on the computer is it can get out of control very very fast. What if we tweak the lines, what if we shear the entire graphic, what if there was some color, ect. ect. you get the point. We normally try to design grey scale because color can really force your opinion about a design.
Back when we were sketching, we ordered a bunch of samples to figure out what fit we liked the best and how we envision the line going. Since we are all over the place in the United States we are forced to take photos of our selves wearing everything to explain the fit. Plenty of debating happens. We also spec any tags that will be apart of the final product like sizing tags.
After most of the sketching and designing is finished, Collin, Chris & Mike do a hangout to pick what graphics they think are the best and finalize them. We always mock up the design by placing them digitally on garments. This helps us visualize the final product and determine if we need to add anything else or to scrap the design entirely.
Now that we can narrow down the line, we show the team what we are looking to produce. This time we did it in person while we were in San Francisco during our “Tilt in the bay” trip in early 2015. The meeting was held in a hotel room at midnight and went till 2am. The team normally hates it or would rock it. This normally involves us going back to the design phase and changing things. After we are confident the team will be good with it, we start producing actual products. What was suppose to be a summer drop turned into a fall/winter release.
The companies we ended up using to make the apparel turned out to be a nightmare. The hat company only had a few molds which weren’t to our liking so we were forced to have a line without hats. The people that were printing our tops ended up not following our stylesheets and placed all of our graphics in different locations. The consistency on the printing was pretty bad which left us with inventory we didn’t feel comfortable selling.
Since we have the final product, it was time to shoot photos. Jona, Dylan and Chris pack their bags for a trip to Washington D.C. to get photos of the apparel in action. Matt Mckeen was kind enough to show them around and let them crash at his pad. The hardest thing about shooting apparel for action sports is making sure the part you want to capture on the garment is visible while the rider is doing their tricks. It’s not easy at all. Also, most of the riders just want to land tricks while the photographer wants extra stuff like riding around the city.
Throughout this process, we get to test our apparel just like any other product we put our name on. Now in the final steps of rapping up the fall/winter apparel line, the last things left to do are, take product photos, retouch the photos, upload them to the website, write product descriptions, send out emails and create marketing material to go with it. Just like this lookbook. What seems like something that should be pretty simple is never simple for TILT. We work hard and don’t cut any corners.